Digest: Toxic whales, piles of poop, and a brightening future for GM crops
Leaving resistance to the weeds?: In response to surging food prices and population growth, Brazil, the EU, and other regions that haven't allowed the cultivation of herbicide-tolerant and other GM crops are loosening their restrictions, crossing their fingers, and hoping for a second Green Revolution. (AP via Washington Post)
A transgenic transition: Obama's ag team is populated with "biotech yes men," spelling potential major discontent among the more liberal ranks of the Prez-to-be's supporters. (Huffington Post)
As if you needed another reason to eat organic: Research in California's San Joaquin Valley confirms "a strong connection" between Parkinson's disease and long-term exposure to pesticides, particularly ziram, a fungicide used on almonds, tree fruit and grapes. Not surprisingly, Parkinson's is unusually common among farmworkers and other residents in the valley. (Fresno Bee)
You had us at "two-story tall pile of chicken manure": Maryland's poultry farms turn out 650 million pounds of waste a year, and it's largely unregulated. That may be about to change. (New York Times)
Call me Toxified: Residents of the Faroe Islands, a last bastion of traditional whaling, may abandon the hunt because the whales are toxic. According to researchers, the levels of mercury, PCBs and DDT derivatives found in whale meat and blubber have already caused the Faroese permanent damage. (New Scientist)
Cheeseburger in... Georgia?: Alabama only has one federally-inspected beef processing plant, so almost all of its cows are shipped 1,000 miles over the state line to be slaughtered. Reporter Ryan Dezember makes the case for investing in local processing infrastructure: "It would not only provide new agricultural jobs, it would save cattlemen the $3,000 to $4,000 they spend to ship each load of 70 cows" into Georgia. He follows up with an article about a restaurant that has done just that by partnering with a local grassfed beef operation. (Press-Register)
And on the flip side of the same coin: Maine's small farmers are still the heart of the state's dairy industry thanks to local processing infrastructure, but consolidation threatens their livelihoods. (Bangor Daily News)
Just ban the stuff already!: Bisphenol A, a chemical used to line many food and beverage containers, is found to leach into food at toxic levels when containers are heated-- even when they say "microwave safe" or are marketed to infants. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).
One thing a multi-million dollar salary can't buy: Protection from antibiotic resistant bacteria! Even NFL stars have been felled by resistant infections recently. The event might not be enough to propel the issue of antibiotic overuse by CAFOs into the mainstream consciousness, but at least it made it into a mainstream paper. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
On the acquisition hunt: Farmers are hurting from tanking grain prices, but grain and meat giant Cargill is going to market with the capital freed up by the commodity bust. (Bloomberg)
A pork-filled referendum: Pork producers have the opportunity to vote on whether they should continue to be required to pay into a general pork marketing fund, the pork checkoff, which is administered by the USDA. Parke Wilde gives us the rundown on why the vote is worth producers' time -- and why the media should cover it. (U.S. Food Policy)
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